This weekend I attended Brett's Ride for Rhabdo in Hickory, North Carolina. The ride is in memory of my nephew, who died from rhabdomyosarcoma when he was twenty years old. Proceeds from the ride are donated to Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, and to Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte.
The ride is in its sixth year, and I've attended them all. Every year, I learn something new about Brett. Yesterday, my father-in-law introduced me to the man who had been Brett's favorite teacher in high school. This history teacher told me about how Brett was taking four AP classes senior year. He said that would be a heavy load even for a healthy kid. But Brett missed class most Friday's because he was undergoing chemo. Still, that year Brett moved from number two to number one in academic standing, and graduated as valedictorian of his class.
Brett's intelligence always impressed me, but his fighting spirit is what I remember most. A minister once said to me, It's not the number of years we live that counts, but what we do with the years given us." That's why I attend Brett's Ride. It lessens the sadness to look around and remember that Brett's was a life well lived.